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Archive for May, 2010

Interviews Are Precious…Are You Preparing Enough To Get The Job?

A couple of weeks ago I received a tweet from an excited jobseeker who wrote that she finally got her first 2 interviews after a 6 month drought.  We had been corresponding about her struggles to appeal to the hiring managers in her field within her city.

After a few tweets and e-mails and some simple advice on how to enhance her presence, she began working on this tirelessly. As a result, she got the interviews.

Two days later she followed up to let me know that she did not get either job.

I asked her where she felt things went awry?  She said she felt like the interviews went well but wasn’t sure where she fell short.

The next day I attended a networking program where the speaker was Sam Richter, internet search guru and author of “Take The Cold Out Of Cold Calling“.  I took a number of his suggestions geared toward client and company sales calls and tailored them to hiring managers and interviews.

After all, in every interview you are tasked with selling yourself to the hiring manager as a way of landing the job.  The best way to do so is to prepare, prepare, prepare.

I walked her through the following interview prep exercise and asked how many of these things she did prior to the interview, her answer…ONE !!!  Walk yourself through this list and see how many you do before interviewing with a company.

1) Did you go to the website of the company and familiarize yourself with their business, products, mission, values, locations, etc.

2) Did you Google the company for recent news, press releases, and any other applicable news about them.

3) Did you get the name of the person/people you were going to interview with?

4) Did you find them on LinkedIn and see if you have any connections in common?  If so, did you contact them to learn more about the interviewer and possibly have them call to give you a recommendation?

5) Did you Google the interviewer(s) to see if there has been anything significant written by them or about them?

6) Did you study the job requirement to make sure you were prepared to explain your experience and how it related to the each required and desired skill?

7) Did you go to their company LinkedIn page and study their stats, demographics, etc.

8) Did you study your resume (I know this one sounds crazy, but when nervous you should leave nothing to chance).

9) Did you prepare questions to ask them?  Many interviewers use your questions as a way of understanding your fact finding skills first hand.

10) Did you ask if their would be time for Q & A at the end of the interview or would they prefer that you ask questions as you think of them?

12) Did you bring a note pad to write down the questions or thoughts during the interview?

11) Most of all, did you try to close them for a decision.  Did you ask for the job?

These are just some of the ways to better prepare for your next interview.  The point is, those who do not prepare for interviews are likely to lose out to those who do.

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If Your Job Search Lacks Creativity And Drive, You Are Fighting A Losing Battle

This past Tuesday I had the good fortune to attend a networking event where the guest speaker was 5 time New York Times best selling author Harvey Mackay. His latest book, entitled “Use Your Head To Get Your Foot In The Door” centers around the little things one can do to overcome the challenges of the current depressed job market. In all of his books he has always been consistent in his belief that your next sale, job, or relationship stem from an all encompassing commitment to networking.

In an article published on About.com, CJ Hayden states that “surveys consistently show that 80-85% of job-seekers find work as the result of a referral from a friend or colleague, and only 2-4% land jobs from Internet job boards”.

I can’t agree more with her findings. But as a recruiter, I look at it from a slightly different perspective. In my case, her numbers hold true with the placements I’ve made over the past 3 years. On average 85% of my placements come from referrals and recommendations from personal friends, current and former colleagues and clients, and contacts from social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook.

This is why I find it frustrating when people tell me that they are frustrated by the lack of results they get from only using job boards.

The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

If you are one of the millions that are out of work presently, try doing something different to jump start the next phase of your job search.

1) If you haven’t done so already, get a LinkedIn account to get in touch with and network with former colleagues and friends.
2) Check out the 1000’s of networking groups on LinkedIn. I guarantee you can find many that will be a great networking vehicle.
3) If you are on Facebook, seek out friends and family to see who they know that you might be able to network with.
4) Every city has many great networking groups to fit a variety of areas from social to professionally focused that can help you in your job search.
5) Go where the people are, (Harvey Mackay notes in his book that volunteering is a great way to meet people and it’s a great way to stand out from the crowd).
6) Reach out to your educational institutions for ways to network through their resources
7) Get involved at your place of worship, mine has in excess of 1500 families and has people from many industries and career categories.
8) Find content on line that you can relate to and sign up for their newsletter or follow their blog. For instance, Harvey Mackay, Landon Long, and The Jobs Guy.

I agree that we are in a tough job market, however their are many ways to crush your competition if you just invest the time and effort and step outside your comfort zone.

Good Luck and happy networking.

Do The April Reports of An Increase In Jobs Mean We’re Out of The Woods ?

This past Friday, Labor Secretary Linda Solis delivered an address that gave some hope regarding job creation in the United States.  However, she cautioned that we are not out of the woods just yet.

I decided to do some research on the subject because there is always something more to the story.

The bad news is that The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent last month.  The silver lining is that this was a result of more out-of-work Americans jumping back into the job hunt.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was up from 9.7 percent in March, where the nation’s jobless rate has held since the beginning of the year. The U.S. Department of Labor said the hiring of 66,000 temporary employees for the 2010 Census helped boost the payroll count, but the gains were also widespread among the private sector, with increases of at least 40,000 jobs in manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services.

Since the downturn in the economy, I have kept in close contact with a number of former colleagues in the staffing business.  Up until last month, they all seemed to have similar concerns about the lack of business with their clients in 2010.  The underlying theme was that companies were holding out as long as possible in order to hire less and do more with their current resources.

Based on feedback from their clients and the projects already booked for the coming months.  We are seeing an uptick in industry here in the Twin Cities. This is in conjunction with the previously reported increased number of jobs in various industries.

A colleague that works with me on some web/social media projects recently informed me that he was interviewing for 2 full time openings in the web development field and was planning to leave his current job.  He also informed me that 4 people have left his current group to pursue other opportunities. This will result in the backfilling of those vacated jobs.  As a result of the previous example, this means there will be 7 new jobs being filled in the web development field in the coming weeks.

I am receiving regular calls from LinkedIn connections, HR and recruiting professionals, and former colleagues asking if I can refer the type of resource they are seeking for their openings.

Based on my research and my ongoing networking, it appears that the market is picking up.  Don’t misunderstand me, we’re not out of the woods yet, but a slight uptick is better than a flat line or downturn any day.

It’s Your Last Semester, So When and Where Should You Start Looking ?

Earlier this week I received a question from a soon to be college graduate. She stated that she was going to be graduating in the coming month and was wondering if it was the right time to begin her job search?

I almost fell out of my chair.  If I knew where she was attending school, I’d seek out her advisor and give them a piece of my mind.

If you are graduating soon and you have yet to begin your job search, you need to giddy-up and start laying the groundwork. The following list will give you some helpful to do’s to get you on the right path (I recommend you begin this process at latest during your Junior year).

  1. Meet with your advisor, career counselor, or someone in the career development department if they have one.
  2. Work with them to build a resume and online LinkedIn profile (make sure you mention all of your associations, awards, interests, etc.).
  3. Reach out to your instructors, TA’s, and Alumni Association to begin networking.
  4. Join networking groups to include LinkedIn groups, Yahoo groups, groups specific to your desired industry , etc.

Back in 1984 at The University of Arizona.  I was fortunate enough to have an amazing advisor by the name of Jim Patterson.  He gave me some of the best advice I ever received. He told me to intern because it was the best way to get experience  and to network my way into the areas I wanted to start my career.

Being a Sports Broadcast Major, I was fortunate enough to intern at CBS in Tucson, Arizona for a year and the Minnesota North Stars Hockey Team.  These internships started during my junior year and continued through my college graduation.  I took the initiative to get these internships because of my college advisor.  These experiences were invaluable, as they showed me what these careers would truly be like.  I ultimately wound up in film production – (a whole other blog.)  Having an internship can ultimately lead to your first job.   What better way is there for an employer to truly interview you than to see your work ethic and talent first hand?

In the 1980’s we didn’t have the internet and social media to help with networking.  We had to do it the old fashioned way through mail and phone calls.

Now that there are more options for networking and the opportunity to educate ourselves on potential employers, the possibilities are endless as long as you make your job search a top priority.  The earlier you start, the wider you can cast your net.